How to Get Good Supervision

In a perfect world, your supervisor will be someone who gives clear instructions, as well as their expectations and timelines. In reality, supervisors are very busy people and often have something that needs to be done quickly, and don’t always articulate what they need from you. They are under pressure from clients and other practitioners. So here is a guide to make sure your supervisor gets the best out of you.Supervision 2

  • Ask for background information – knowing the bigger picture can put the task into context.
  • Be clear about the end product and effort required. There is no point in preparing a four page memo when your supervisor wanted a 5 dot point summary or a verbal report.
  • Clarify the priority and
  • Clarify your authority – are you able to call the client, for example?
  • Identify useful resources – is there a precedent available, or a similar file someone else has conducted? Reinventing the wheel is a waste of time.
  • Summarise your understanding of what you are being asked to do – repeat back your instructions to make sure you have not misunderstood. This will save a lot of time should the instructions not have been clear.
  • Touch base if necessary to make sure you are on the right track for complicated or lengthy tasks.
  • Set aside time – your supervisors are busy people. If it is not urgent, make a time that is convenient for them. And use their time efficiently.
  • But – seek assistance promptly if you are in trouble. Don’t leave it to the last minute, with a deadline approaching to tell someone you are struggling.
  • Ask for feedback after the event. How wonderful if your research was copied and pasted into a letter of advice. If it was changed, what could you have done differently?
  • Take constructive feedback on board – don’t avoid it or become defensive.
  • If you have multiple supervisors, discuss & clarify which urgent matter has to take priority prior to commencing any of them.

Remember – this is your career, and it is your responsibility to take control of it and make sure you develop and grow with the help of your supervisors. If you work with them in a way that makes their life easier, they will come to depend on you. And that is a good place to be.